The gender pay gap and gender equality in employment have been a topic of discussion for decades, going back to the late 1960s and beyond and resulting in the introduction of the Equal Pay Act in 1970.
In more recent times, disclosures of differing salaries between men and woman in some high-profile industries have brought the topic back to the fore and demonstrated that inequality is still happening.
While a lot of sectors have closed these gaps quite successfully over time, there are still some industries in which there remains a perception that sexism and gender inequality still exist.
The construction industry is one such sector, according to a report commissioned by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS). The results show that around one-third of the 1,000 people surveyed still felt that inequality and sexism was prevalent in the sector and this was one of the main reasons given by woman for being reluctant to apply for senior roles within the construction industry.
In addition to the fear of sexism, the results showed that over one-third of the respondents still felt that men were simply better suited and had the skills required for roles in construction.
While there are laws that protect workers’ rights and set minimum pay levels, sometimes outdated perceptions and attitudes such as these need to be tackled by the industry and by the individual companies.
Firstly, the culture of organisations needs to change to be one of accepting that diversity in the workforce is a real benefit; secondly, the recruitment and training strategies need to be adjusted to reflect this to enable construction businesses to attract and retain the top talent within their sector, which will in turn help their business to flourish in the future.
Accepting that different groups of the workforce may have different skills to offer and may require a different set of working conditions is one place to start; for example, looking at more flexible working patterns may be a way to begin to attract more woman into the construction industry.
The RICS survey confirmed that over one-third of female respondents agreed that more flexible working hours could encourage them to remain within the sector.
It is not all bad news for the construction industry, however, with nearly half the people surveyed feeling that the gender pay gap would be significantly reduced or eradicated by 2018.
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